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A dead patient was left on a hospital ward in Birmingham for nearly five hours, according to a watchdog that found low staffing levels were compromising patient care at one of the largest NHS trusts in England.
The Care Quality Commission (CQC) visited University Hospitals Birmingham NHS trust unannounced in December to inspect three of its hospitals: Queen Elizabeth hospital and Heartlands hospital in Birmingham, and Good Hope hospital in the suburb of Sutton Coldfield.
At Good Hope hospital, the inspectors found deceased patients were not always moved from wards in a timely manner, with one patient who passed away at 6.45am still on the ward at 11.35am, nearly five hours later, causing distress to several staff members.
It concluded that “the service did not have enough nursing staff … to provide the right care and treatment”, and said in some instances one nurse was responsible for 17 patients at one time.
The report also raised concerns that low staffing left patients at risk of potential avoidable falls, highlighting one example of a patient who fell and passed away after sustaining an injury when all staff were busy with other patients. “An investigation report was produced as a result which highlighted staffing as a concern,” the report said.
Staffing issues were also highlighted at Queen Elizabeth and Heartlands hospitals, and safety at all three hospitals has been rated as “requires improvement”. The CQC recommendations to the trust included ensuring nurse staffing was adequate to keep patients safe.
A spokesperson for University Hospitals Birmingham NHS foundation trust, which treats more than 2.2 million people every year, said it was already aware of all the issues raised in the report and work to tackle them was ongoing.
“At the time of the inspections, which took place on 2 and 9 December 2020, the trust and our amazing staff were 10 months into a pandemic response with over 450 Covid inpatients on the days the inspections took place, rising to 1,054 Covid inpatients during January.
“Despite the enormous challenges faced by our staff, reassuringly there were no escalations related to individual patient safety at the time of inspection. The CQC recognised the complexity of the context and the trust has provided further assurances related to ongoing work.
“The efforts of our staff to provide care to what is now well over 11,000 Covid inpatients, during the most difficult period in the history of the NHS, has been and remains quite extraordinary. It continues to be our focus.”
Source: The Guardian
Keyword: Dead patient left on Birmingham ward for five hours, CQC finds | Society